Coupeville's County Deli goes out of business

Three generations of Hummels have been working at the County Deli for most of the decade. From the  left are Maureen, Dylan, Seaneen, Elizabeth, Kristin and Amelia.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Three generations of Hummels have been working at the County Deli for most of the decade. From the left are Maureen, Dylan, Seaneen, Elizabeth, Kristin and Amelia.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

After 20 years of filling the sandwich needs of the hungry residents of Coupeville, a popular restaurant closed at the end of the year.

The County Deli, which has been operating out of its North Main location since 1989, closed when the current owners, the Hummel family, decided to sell the venerable restaurant.

“It was time,” Maureen Hummel said during an interview before Christmas. The family wanted to sell the business to find time to concentrate on other ventures. The Hummels had finished more than eight years of operating the deli.

The County Deli has been a family operation since the Hummels took over. Three generations of the family could often be seen at the restaurant. In addition to Maureen, her daughters Kristin Hummel and Seaneen Hummel Kardley and grandchildren Emmalynn and Amelia spent their days at the deli.

Maureen, who hails from San Luis Obispo, said the family originally planned to buy land for a resort on the San Juan Islands, however plans changed because they didn’t want a business in a location that was so reliant on ferries. They scooped up the County Deli from Jack and Melissa Lamy in November 2002. The Lamys moved on to own the Mad Crab in Coupeville.

Once they purchased the restaurant, Maureen said the family improved the food quality and started serving dinner. In addition to the wide selection of sandwiches, Maureen pointed out that her homestyle desserts and quiches were always popular with customers.

Children were also a prominent fixture at the County Deli. Hummel’s four grandchildren basically spent their waking hours in the restaurant; often chipping in to help customers.

“We always called it the daycare deli because the grandkids grew up here,” Hummel said. Emmalynn, 3, and 9-month-old Amelia could often seen at lunchtime wandering around the restaurant.

Like so many other businesses struggling during the recession, the County Deli has seen its number of customers decline in recent years. At one time, six people outside the Hummel family worked for the deli; at the end only family members kept the business afloat.

The Hummels also experienced a family health crisis in recent years. Maureen’s daughter, Esther, had a heart attack and surgery in 2009. The community rallied and raised money for the family to help offset the health costs.

The County Deli isn’t the only restaurant to close in Coupeville in 2010. Kimo’s Island Barbecue and Teriyaki on North Main Street and the Mad Crab located on the historic Front Street waterfront also closed.

The Hummels already have plans for the rest of their working lives. They will open a manufacturing business and sell on the Internet, although family members didn’t go into specifics. Kristin’s husband, Robert Rochholz, currently runs Creative Gardens landscaping on Central Whidbey Island.

“I want some more time with my family,” Kristin Hummel said.

Maureen said that a new restaurant will soon operate out of the County Deli, but she didn’t know any details.

The town of Coupeville rreceived an application Dec. 30 from Mark Laska to alter the County Deli building, according to an email from Coupeville Town Planner Larry Kwarsick. Plans for the building include adding a second-story deck on the building’s north side and installing a stairway connecting the first and second floors. Food service would be expanded to a portion of the second story and the present canopy on the building’s front will also be changed.

The Hummels will miss the people they’ve enjoyed serving over the years.

“We want to say thank you to all the people who supported us for all these years,” Maureen said. “We will miss them.”

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